Journalists honor best real-estate stories
Real-estate editors' group grants awards to writers for stories on topics ranging from a Vegas condo scam to property purchases by the Church of Scientology.
We spent last week hearing about trends in real estate at the annual National Association of Real Estate Editors' conference in Denver. That conference also gave us a chance to recognize some of the best real-estate reporting of last year.
Among the winning entries were some compelling stories we had not heard before, so we thought we'd share a few.
Notable books also were honored. The winner of the Robert Bruss Real Estate Book Award, named for the late real-estate columnist, was Kalvin Platt, author of "Master-Planned Communities: Lessons from the Developments of Chuck Cobb," published by the Urban Land Institute.
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Cobb, who was the CEO of Arvida Corp. and the Disney Development Co. in the 1970s and '80s, was instrumental in the creation of a number of planned communities. Platt's book visited those communities to see how well they serve their residents today.
Among the other top winners:
- Felix Gillette, Bloomberg Businessweek, won the top individual award for his story about "The King of All Las Vegas Real Estate Scams." The story told how a 65-year-old, legally blind retiree helped to bring down a ring of corrupt lawyers and construction companies scamming condo developments.
- Kenneth Harney, Washington Post Writers Group and Inman News, won for Best Freelance Collection. Harney, who writes a weekly syndicated column about real estate, outlined how the Internal Revenue Service came to award tax credits to, among others who didn't deserve them, prisoners, dead people and babies.
- Daniel Miller, The Hollywood Reporter, won Best Entry by a Young Journalist for his reporting on the Church of Scientology buying up property in Hollywood, Calif.
- Jamie Smith Hopkins and Scott Calvert, Baltimore Sun, won for Best Investigative Report for a series of stories on homeowners illegally collecting tax breaks on multiple homes.
Oh, and MSN Real Estate's writers received a few awards, too. Leah L. Culler received the first-place award for Best Residential Real Estate Feature for her story on homes with secret rooms. I placed second in Best Real Estate Blog for "Listed."
You can see a list of all the winners here.
About Teresa Mears
Teresa Mears is a veteran journalist who has been interested in houses since her father took her to tax auctions to carry the cash at age 10. A former editor of The Miami Herald's Home & Design section, she lives in South Florida where, in addition to writing about real estate, she publishes Miami on the Cheap to help her neighbors adjust to the loss of 60% of their property value.